A man who fled from police and later was arrested after he and another man had been spotted allegedly shoplifting from a Lafayette Wal-Mart store was properly convicted of Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday.
Mark A. Conley was convicted after a jury trial of Class A misdemeanor counts of theft and resisting law enforcement. Police had been called after Wal-Mart asset protection officers saw Conley and the other man put merchandise into an empty backpack Conley carried into the store. Police said Conley ran across the parking lot as they arrived, but he was caught and arrested.
One officer testified that before the arrest, he made eye contact with Conley and ordered him to stop by putting his hand up. Conley darted behind the officer’s car and ditched his backpack, according to the record. Items from the store were found in his backpack.
“We hold that the evidence and reasonable inferences therefrom support a determination that Conley had reason to know that Officer [Kurt] Sinks was a police officer,” Judge Edward Najam wrote in Mark A. Conley v. State of Indiana, 79A02-1512-CR-2348. The evidence “demonstrates that Officer Sinks did, by visible means, order Conley to stop fleeing. Under these facts and circumstances, we hold that a reasonable person would have interpreted Officer Sinks’ hand gesture as a visual command to stop.”